When psychotics psychoanalize a sane man

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Speaking from receiving-end experience, I know an effective therapist from a poor one. And the only thing that irks me more than amateurs playing shrink, is shrinks acting amateurish. Both together, though, drives me downright nuts. So when I saw this piece of crap article, titled “Psychiatrists put Chávez on the couch”, on a Spanish news site, I found myself irresistibly tempted to analyze an obviously piss-poor bunch of analysts. Crazy, huh? So, with no further ado, here’s my translation, with periodic interjections and analysis:

Mythomaniac, megalomaniac, fabulator, compulsive, narcissist, charismatic, seducer, envious, lacking in scruples. These are some of the traits Venezuelan psychiatrists attribute to their president, Hugo Chávez, who has been in power nearly twelve years, not counting “the missing ones”. And, despite the fact that no previous president has spent more than ten years in power, he is now on the road to running in the presidential elections of 2012.

In the meantime, he himself is directing the campaign for the legislative elections which will be held on September 26, much more than legal norms allow.

Right off the bat, you can see how the author of the piece cunningly lays her trap. The real issue is the Venezuelan parliamentary election coming up on the 26th, but she buries that in the second paragraph. Instead, she chooses to lead with misdirection: the (imaginary) personality faults of Hugo Chávez, duly constituted president of Venezuela.

Notice, too, that she wraps all Venezuelan shrinks in the same blanket. In this reporter’s little world, ALL of them think he’s crazy. And no one who thinks otherwise is allowed to get a word in, as you will see.

And of course, the lying starts from the get-go. Aside from the imaginary personality traits attributed to Chávez, there is the accusation that he’s committing electoral fraud by openly supporting his candidates for assembly seats. This is a lie. As leader of the PSUV, he is within his rights to support his own party’s candidates on the campaign trail; it would be crazy if he didn’t. In any other country, such campaign support would be a given. Why is it out of line in Venezuela? (Rhetorical question; the answer will come in due course.)

And oh yeah, as an aside, notice the other neat little bit of misdirection here: No mention at all of what the opposition leaders and candidates are up to. That’s because they’re all discredited relics from the Puntofijista/Fourth Republic past, and therefore bound to lose. For that reason, most have not even bothered to mount the most desultory campaign; those that have, are still lagging by double digits in the polls. Little wonder, then, that the hoary old “Chávez is loco” canard is being dragged out of mothballs yet again–he’s the only one showing signs of life!

But surely transgressing against established norms–such as heading the electoral campaign for his parliamentary candidates, abusing state resources, and turning legislative elections into a plebiscite–it’s another of his personality traits which is emphasized by consulted specialists–the need to call attention to himself.

“Specialists”–“consulted” by whom? Surely not Chavecito himself. These “consulted specialists” are nothing more than cheap political soundbite providers.

Notice, too, as the article goes on, that the charges of “abusing state resources” and “turning legislative elections into a plebiscite” are not backed up by the least shred of evidence. That’s because there isn’t any. Instead, the focus is on crazy, sexy craziness, in a masterpiece of misdirection…

“He’s a person who needs constant admiration; he shows preoccupation with his fantasies of power, seems not to understand the meaning of limitations, has no notion of proportion, thinks he is special or unique, there is no institution that deserves his respect, and requires excessive admiration, always in public,” says psychologist and psychotherapist María Bustamante.

María, María, María…he’s the president. He gets constant admiration because his policies are effective and therefore popular; no narcissistic “explanation” required. And he actually understands the meaning of limitations quite well; everything he’s done has been within the norms of the Venezuelan constitution. He even puts himself to a popular vote and wins! How narcissistic!

For insight into his conduct, you have to recall those days in February 1999, when Gabriel García Márquez wrote his famous article “The Enigma of the Two Chávezes”: “One, to whom unalterable fate offered the opportunity to save his country, and the other, an illusionist, who could pass into history as just another despot.”

Um, since when is a famous Colombian novelist a “consulted specialist”? He is NOT a shrink! Gabriel García Márquez, you may recall, is famous for his work in the field of fiction known as Magical Realism. And his “Two Chávezes” is more a work of poetic fancy than a literal interpretation of the personality of this leader, whom García likes, admires and politically sympathizes with, himself. I don’t think he would like to be read so literally as to be insinuating that Chávez is schizophrenic, or has a multiple-personality disorder.

Many would give him the Oscar for the best portrayal of a politician in Venezuela. He likes to invite Hollywood celebrities like Oliver Stone, Sean Penn and Danny Glover, who, like him, are members of the same profession: that of the politico-actor.

ZOMG histrionics! Actually, this is not such different conduct from that of his rivals and predecessors, all of whom cultivated celebrities–mostly local, occasionally foreign–with sympathetic views. What’s notable here, though, is that Chavecito’s support extends well beyond the usual vacuous beauty-queen contingent that trails the AD/COPEI crowd; the celebrities he attracts have reputations as the intellectuals of their field, and are extremely well respected worldwide, not just in Venezuela.

His vocation for the interpretative arts was born in the military academy, where he trod the boards in the theatre. Former director of budgets for the Ministry of Defence, Colonel Orlando Suárez, a former professor of Chávez’s, told ABC that “Once he played the role of General José Antonio Páez in an academy play. He has natural theatrical gifts, exacerbated by his narcissistic tendency, but before, he was shy and retiring.”

Colonel Suárez does not hold a very favorable opinion of Chávez, whom he trained in parachuting in 1983 and 1984. He recalls that Chávez “turned pale with fear when it came time to jump. He always looked for an excuse not to do it. He is a coward by nature.” In the military academy he was always in one of the last places in his class. “He failed his leadership course exam. He had to repeat the entire course to graduate. And he only managed it thanks to his family’s influence with ex-president Rafael Caldera.” Colonel Suárez considers Chávez “more ‘toasted’ “(crazy, in Venezuelan slang) than ex-president Abdalá Bucaram of Ecuador, who was expelled from power due to his “eccentricities”.

Hmmm. Why do I get the feeling that this former army officer is just bitter and envious of Chavecito, who retired from the military with the rank of a mere lieutenant-colonel himself and then went on to become president? Maybe he’s pissed that he wasn’t promoted to general, or chief of staff, or
some such; his words reek of resentment. There are so many inconsistencies and outright lies in his statements that it’s obvious he couldn’t keep his story straight. How could Chavecito manage to play the role of General Páez–a major revolutionary hero, and one of his leadership role models–while being “shy and retiring”? (Actually, that last bit is definitely bullshit; the pre-academy Chavecito is widely remembered, according to Bart Jones’s bio of him, as outgoing, full of fun, a hard worker, and fond of baseball and singing. And about as shy and retiring as a roaring waterfall.)

As for turning pale with fear when confronted with parachute jumping: Hell, who wouldn’t be? I’m sure plenty of others were green around the gills, too. No one is NOT nervous the first time they jump out of an airplane; it’s a great way to get yourself killed, and so much can go wrong even if you’re well prepared. It’s perfectly natural and rational, therefore, to be afraid. But apparently Chavecito mastered the art just fine, because he later got command of a paratroop regiment. You don’t get there unless you can jump, and do so fearlessly. Plus, Chavecito later survived an attempt on his life with real courage, and not an iota of cowardice. So yeah, I call bullshit on this one too.

And at the bottom of his class? In LEADERSHIP, of all things? You guessed it, bullshit. One thing that strikes me, every time I view The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is what a tremendous natural rapport Chavecito has with his soldiers, and how easily he inspires loyalty in them. That’s not just charisma; that’s competence. Their loyalty, in fact, was what saved his life when the coupmongers imprisoned him on the island of La Orchila. You don’t get that by flunking in leadership skills training, much less getting your dad to exercise his pull with, of all people, Rafael Caldera, who was NOT president in 1983-4 (that was Jaime Lusinchi). And when Chavecito was in military academy, ten years earlier, Caldera WAS president, but Hugo Chávez Sr. was not exactly someone who had a lot of pull with him. In fact, he had none whatsoever, being a poor schoolteacher from the backwaters of Barinas. So yeah, once more with feeling, everyone: BULLSHIT!

Psychologist Bustamante emphasizes the “meritorious” and “caudillo” (petty tyrant) character of Chávez. He creates irrational expectations in order to be treated as someone special, to whom blind obedience is owed. “He turns everyone who thinks differently from himself into despicable enemies, and almost always talks from an elevated position and in a royal tone.” The most obvious aspect of his conduct is exclusion. “He is envious–and feels that others envy him–and has arrogant, holier-than-thou, haughty attitudes.”

Bustamante says that as president, he “displays changing and very superficial expressions, uses his physical appearance or costumes to call attention to himself, and has an excessively expressionist discourse style.”

Well, I’m sure María Bustamante would prefer someone colorless and bland, like Rafael Caldera–who, during his own second presidency, in the late 1990s, was obliged to appear in public and lay rest to rumors that he had died. (Yes, he was THAT boring. And sadly, that old.) But is she right about the blind obedience bit?

No. Chavecito actually likes to be challenged, and this is something that many who have worked with him have remarked on. He thrives on legitimate contradiction, even from his allies. He doesn’t want yes-men; he’s actively engaged with the needs of his people, and he likes to hear them out. That’s just one of the many reasons why he’s so effective and popular: He LISTENS.

As for appearances and costumes: He seems to have only two, both perfectly in character and not crazy in the least. One is the black pants and untucked red shirt he favors for everyday; red being the color of his party (and also the color that suits his own complexion best). The other is his military uniform and red beret, both of which he is still entitled to wear as commander-in-chief. This is “excessively expressionist”? I’d sure like some of whatever María is smoking, it might help me to fall asleep.

Eloy Silvio Pomenta, a professor of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy at the Central University of Venezuela, explained to us that, in an ordinary person, a character marked by narcissism has no power to cause much social disturbance. “But when it comes to a head of state in an important oil-producing country, who also possesses a great capacity for seducing and manipulating the masses, who has his own little intellectual court, and who attracts political and economic leaders who approach him with lucrative offers, the repercussions could be catastrophic.”

Pomenta mentions other narcissistic personality traits that Chávez suffers: grandiosity, exhibitionism, a feeling of omnipotence, fragile self-esteem (with depressive crises), incapacity to love (because all his affective capacities are concentrated on his own ego, he is unavailable to others), disconnection from reality, rage, and destructive envy when he is not getting what he wants.

Amazing how he can diagnose all that without seeing Chavecito on his couch on a regular basis! The man must be some kind of psychic. I see a brilliant future ahead for him on a 900-number phone line. But as a shrink? Nyet.

One thing that IS significant here, though, is the mention of oil. Remember I mentioned it earlier? That’s what this is really all about. They don’t like a competent, dangerously sane leader being in charge of all that oil, which was incidentally being sneak-privatized just before he entered office. Venezuelan oil has gone up in price, and that’s been all to the good of the Revolution, too. Previous presidents ran the national oil company into the ground, and were all for letting foreigners buy it–and them–out. Not so, Chavecito. He’s no sellout. Not only is he a savvy businessman, he knows how to make that oil work for his country, rather than just sending his country to work for Big Foreign Oil like so many of his predecessors–some of whom were REAL dictators. (Google Juan Vicente Gómez and Marcos Pérez Jiménez, in particular, and you’ll see just what I mean.) I’ve never yet seen a dictator who could take oil money and put it into hospitals, schools and loans to entrepreneurs, instead of just his own pockets and those of his cronies–have you? Yet this is what Chavecito does on a regular basis, and quite happily. It’s called “sowing the oil”, in Venezuela, and it’s something the people just love him for doing–that is, if they’re not displaced former incompetent PDVSA execs.

And now, for something truly comical:

According to psychiatrist Luis José Uzcátegui, author of “Chavez, the Wizard of Emotions”, the leader “has become trapped in a totally outdated psychological structure. I’m referring to Fidel Castro, which is something catastrophical. No country can function with such backward schemes.”

He adds that several of Chávez’s traits “are contagious” to his acolytes and followers. “The important thing is that these psycho-political processes are unfolding according to a scheme we’ve already seen: high spending and inefficiency.”

On January 15, Chávez officially declared himself a Marxist, though he said he had not read a book of Karl Marx in his life. If he had said so eleven years ago, few people would have voted for him, and he would not be in Miraflores Palace today. His “21st Century Socialism” project, which Fidel Castro called communist last month, was rejected in the referendum of 2007, but he keeps at it, come what may.

“Therein lies the danger. There is a type of socialism which is only for antisocials. They invent a socialism of their own to keep themselves in power. Chávez exercises a modern dictatorship, tailored to the times,” Uzcátegui says.

Isn’t that hysterical? Once more, the old guilt-by-association thing rears its bedraggled head. Only, as usual, it stinks and won’t wash. Fidel Castro has been vocal in praise of Chavecito’s democratic way of doing things, and while Cuba has benefited from mutual interchange with Venezuela under the ALBA treaty, it’s not as if Venezuela has turned into another Cuba or is in danger of doing so. Everything about Bolivarian Venezuela so far has been very democratic, and very distinctly different from the Cuban revolutionary course.

Moreover, the author of this piece is lying about Chávez declaring himself a Marxist on January 15; I think I’d have made note of it here, if that were the case! It would be awfully hard to miss something like that. And without having read Marx? Shenanigans! He read Marx, actually, early on in his military career, after having found an abandoned, bullet-riddled car that had once belonged to some leftist guerrillas. The trunk of the car was full of musty old Marxist literature, which he removed, cleaned up and stashed in a personal library which he and his army buddies later used as they began to organize their Bolivarian military movement. But while Chavecito may draw some of his information and inspiration from Marx, he is emphatically not a Marxist.

And no, Fidel didn’t call the Bolivarian revolution “communist”, either; I think I’d have heard of that, if he did. Nor was the revolution rejected in 2007; that was just one vote for term-limit reform, which was later put to another vote and passed. Just more stupid shenanigans on the part of our shoddy journalist.

And now, finally, we arrive at the nut (pun intended) of the whole matter:

The social-democratic party, Acción Democrática (AD), tried in 2005 to accuse Chávez of insanity, which, according to the Constitution, could be a cause to remove him from the presidency, but neither the Supreme Court nor the Attorney General would hear the case. Not long before that, in 2002, the then president of the Venezuelan Psychiatric Society (SVP), Franzel Delgado Senior, alerted the country to the personality problems besetting Chávez.

In a statement to ABC, Franzel accused Chávez of leading a kind of cult, “a movement which exhibits an excessive devotion to a person, idea or thing, which uses unethical techniques of manipulation to persuade and control; designed to achieve the leader’s goals.” He concludes: “Psychopaths are very afraid of actions against him. They talk about assassinations. They don’t like that he is called a dictator. But I don’t see him as ultimately democratic. I see him as being like any other other dictator.”

Isn’t that hysterical? Five years ago, those corrupt, discredited old Adecos tried to get Chavecito removed from office on the grounds of insanity, and their efforts failed. Now, five years later, they’re trying again. I guess they expect a different result this time. Well, if that’s not the functional equivalent of insanity, I don’t know what is. Good thing they’re not in power and never will be again; they’d have to be removed, to a man, because they’re all lunatics.

And if you don’t believe me, watch AD party leader Henry Ramos Allup and listen to him talk:

As the Robertos point out, he’s quite the one for rages and insults, histrionics, egotism and just about everything else the Adecos accuse Chavecito of. For that reason, I have to say that these psychiatrists–amateur or otherwise–who are trying to diagnose Chavecito as insane are…wait for it…PROJECTING.

And yes, projection is just one of many signs of real insanity.

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10 Responses to When psychotics psychoanalize a sane man

  1. Jim Hadstate says:

    One of the things that is worth noting from the get go is that in most places in the world, if a psychiatrist or a psychologist attempt to make a diagnosis of a persons mental health or mental disease or mental problems without having personally interviewed the subject, then the person making the diagnosis is subject to being stripped of their license. It is true in the US and Canada and it was in Panama. All European Countries follow this standard as well.
    I can’t speak for Venezuela because I have never lived there nor have I done an extensive search of its laws, rules, regulations and ethical standards. But it would greatly surprise me if any country as modern as Venezuela is, with its local First World locales, would not have adopted similar standards.
    So, that leaves us with the $64,000.00 question. Who are these people that supposedly psychoanalyzed President Chavez from afar and diagnosed his mental deficiencies? I’d really like to know because I’d like to file a complaint with the Venezuelan Medical Licensing Board.
    And a senile old general who taught at a military academy 30 years ago is now and expert on mental issues? Give me a break. He is the one who needs to have his mental issues diagnosed and long-term mental health care arranged. Oh, and while were at it, that guy he slammed? That guy made it possible to get that care even if he can’t afford it.

  2. Jim, I suspect it must also be true in Venezuela, although I’m not sure how well the authorities are enforcing it, if that is the case. Not very much, by the looks of things. At least with Chavecito in charge, that can change!
    But you’re right, no one pulls this kind of shit in Canada, either for a website here or abroad. The one I linked was from Spain. In other words, the article I translated violates European psychiatric and journalistic norms both, no question about it. It’s highly unprofessional conduct on the part of all parties, from the reporter to the interviewees, and the laughable, demonstrable falsity of the shrinks’ “findings” makes me wonder if they’re even competent diagnosticians at all.
    I’m no expert and don’t pretend to be, but I’ve watched I don’t know how many hundreds of hours of Chavecito on video, and his sanity is beyond doubt. At times, in fact, his cordura is downright impressive. Right after he was brought back, when the coup of ’02 failed, he was relaxed, all smiles, making jokes–and certainly not in a fragile state of mind at all, as anyone might expect of him at such a nerve-wracking moment. The documentary cameras caught everything. He was fine! And he’s still doing great. I don’t know how he does it, maybe it’s all the cafecito he drinks. But whatever it is, he’s obviously sane, stable and competent, which is more than I can say for his detractors.

  3. Christopher Olorago says:

    Coercion…
    “The act of compelling by force of authority.”
    “Is the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, trickery, or some other form of pressure or force. Such actions are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way.”
    “To restrain by force, especially by law or authority; to repress; to curb; to use force, threat, fraud, or intimidation in attempt to compel one to act against his will.”
    A lack of choice is not coercion, not by any definition. Nature states that you must work in order to live – i.e. you must find food or die. Is nature therefore coercive? Should we stage a humans’ revolution and throw off the shackles of our oppressive nature? Of course not.
    Btw, the lack of democracy on your blog and silencing of my right to opinion is a lot like a businessman telling his worker to shut the fuck up or be fired, because it’s “his property, his rules.” See how hypocritical you are?
    Of course, I doubt you’ll publish this at all. Such is Sabina – runs away when her fallacies are shown.

  4. Slave Revolt says:

    Well, besides coffee, I don’t doubt that Chavez chews coca leaves because it is an excellent stimulant.
    Interesting how these psychos repeatedly refer to Chavez as a ‘dictator’, or describe his government as ‘dictatorship’.
    In a dictatorship these people would be too fearful of imprisonment to be quoted saying anything against the government.
    However, this is all red-meat for the shallow thinking among the upper and middle classes. They eat this shit up.
    Very much like the far rightwing here in North America, they don’t let the requirement to form a cogent argument, or to engage in critical thinking, get in the way of an opprotunity to smear. Indeed, being quoted in this article will drum up business from the wingnut-oligarch contingent.
    By the way, Bina, last Friday the FBI here in the US set up a sting operation: they trapped some retired Los Alamos scientists into accepting money for helping a faux-Venezuelan government operative (who was really FBI) give over nuclear secrets.
    The headlines framed the situation as though the Venezuelan government was involved in trying to obtain nuclear technologies.
    This is how effective propaganda works. It’s very subtle, but strong enough to frame Venezuela as ‘bad’ guys, friends of terrorists.
    The more affluent, yuppie classes eat this shit up. Look no further than Kos or Huffington Post for evidence of this.
    Of course, the cheerleaders of US imperialism will never engage honest debate about any of this. Chumps and dupes.

  5. Nolan says:

    Those “psychologists” sound like the medical experts in sketchy diet supplement commercials advertised on late night television, where you are supposed to consider them experts because they are wearing a white coat. I’m not surprised a right wing rag would post something like this, but you can almost guarantee this piece will make it to the English language media without any fact checking done.

  6. Sorry about the idiot there in the middle, guys. He’s a troll who doesn’t understand the meaning of DISCUSSION CLOSED, or MY BLOG, MY RULES.
    Troll, n. “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”
    And since he doesn’t respect my wishes, I don’t have to respect his desire to troll here any longer. So long, Christopher Fucking Olorago, or whatever your real name is. Welcome to the wank-list, and the spam filter in future. If you think you have something of worth to say, get your own damn blog and babble your bullshit there. I promise I won’t visit.
    We now return you to our regularly scheduled debunkage of crapitalist mythology. Thank you.

  7. Slave Revolt says:

    Christopher, you rightwing freak, Bina just yanked your pants down and kicked you in the nuts.
    Don’t blame you Bina, the guy’s attitude didn’t indicate that he is ready for any type of real debate. Just here to jerk off. Indeed, he really goes off the rails when you puncture his cherished crapitalist dogmas.
    Care to comment on my points?

  8. Thanks, Slave, I knew you’d oblige…with real points and a real boot to the dangly bits, too. 🙂
    As Evo so often says, coca no es cocaína. The leaves are nutritious, and tasty enough apparently for flavoring cola drinks with (and minus the alkaloids!), so anyone who chews them is bound to have plenty of energy. In fact, were it not for insane drug laws, the sacred leaf would have been legal in its raw state up here a long time ago. There’s not enough alkaloid in it to give a fly a buzz–the quantities needed to make cocaine out of it are massive, and so are the amounts of chemicals they have to add (some of those, like kerosene and hydrochloric acid, being downright noxious.) The irony is, were coca legalized, the bottom would drop out of the crack and cocaine markets overnight.
    And yes, excellent point about the chattering classes being shallow thinkers, too. If they read books, instead of getting their news at third and fourth hand from crappy, heavily edited sources, they might absorb a bit more real information. But of course, books are soooo haaaaard. They don’t have any flashing lights or insane dudes dancing around scribbling shit on a chalkboard. Worse, they force you to sit down, shut up and THINK, oh my!
    And yeah, how about that FBI fake Venezuelan. I’d panic more about him if I didn’t know what false flag operations are, and how often US government agencies use them to fabricate justifications for military strikes and coup attempts. The fun part is, that story fell apart almost immediately. And oh, what timing–just on schedule for this week’s elections! But, as Nolan points out, some people need only an actor in a white coat to seriously believe that this is an “expert” of some sort!

  9. Manaat says:

    ABC used to be the main Franquist newspaper during the Spanish Civil War, and Spain’s major newspaper throughout Franco’s time. Now it is one of the big five newspapers, but pretty far right (although some people who used to work for it decided it wasn’t right enough and left to found “La Razo’n”, another one of the “big five”). The Spanish press is pretty bad, in my view, including the supposedly center-left “El Pai’s”, but ABC is of course much worse. The only major Spanish newspaper I could tolerate is “El Pu’blico”, which is a new publication, may someday become one of the “big five”.

  10. Somehow, that fascist history doesn’t surprise me in the least. And if all Spanish papers tend to have a rightward drift, then they’ll soon find themselves losing readership. People can only be fooled so long, especially in the age of the Internets (and debunkage!)

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